HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - The Inaugural Polynesian Bowl was played at Aloha Stadium on Saturday, January 21, 2017 between Team Mariota and Team Stanley.
The game was a defensive battle with Team Stanley securing the first ever victory 9-7, teams were named after their respective coaches Marcus Mariota and Ronnie Stanley.
On that evening a little more then three years ago Iowa commit AJ Epenesa of Team Stanley took home Defensive MVP honors after tallying five tackles, two sacks and two forced fumbles.
Epenesa along with St. Louis Crusader quarterback Tua Tagovailoa were two of the games biggest names as both were highly touted recruits with Polynesian roots heading off to play their college ball.
That inaugural Polynesian Bowl class has now joined the ranks of the professional level.
While Tua Tagovailoa was selected as the number five overall pick by the Miami Dolphins, in round two of the NFL Draft A.J. Epenesa was selected as the 54th pick by the Buffalo Bills.
Epenesa was Buffalo’s first player the organization drafted this year, as the Bills traded their first round draft pick away to Minnesota for wide receiver Stefon Diggs.
Epenesa and Tua Tagovailoa were the team captains for this past years Polynesian Bowl and both returned to the islands ahead of the draft.
“My expectations are to just carry through and not miss a step,” said Epenesa back in January of 2020 to Hawaii News Now. “I’m trying to continue being the best football player I can be.”
For NFL hopefuls such as UH’s Cole McDonald, Kahuku’s Alohi Gilman and Bradlee Anae rounds 4-7 will take place Saturday starting at 6:00 am Hawaii time on ESPN.